Updates from our emergency response in Poland

War is madness. It is one thing seeing reports on TV or reading the news about people fleeing their homes, arriving in a safe place and another being close enough to feel the pain.

Mothers alone with their little children, red eyes from the crying, instead of a normal family life, offered a little camp bed for the night and an abyss of uncertainty and fear. An old lady gazing at the emptiness probably thinking ‘why at the last stage of my life this had to happen and I had to leave my country, my house, my belongings, my whole world behind’? A young man saying goodbye to his loved one at the Medyka border to go to fight – kisses mixed with tears and the sense of unreal.

More than 500,000 refugees have crossed to Poland. More than 1 million have crossed to all neighboring countries.

The reception from the Polish authorities, civil society and people is touching, everyone has stepped in to help this unprecedented situation.

Under this craziness there is great resilience, solidarity and care. There are around 9 reception centres close to the borders with Ukraine, mostly athletic facilities and previously public buildings now used to host all who flee the war.

Our team visited 3 of these reception centres (Medyka, Hrubieszów, Dorohus’k) and the border crossing in Medyka and talked to the local coordinators regarding needs and assistance. They also met with local organisations in Kraków and it was established that there is a need of helping hands in warehouses and for coordinating info-points and activities.

Clothing items were abundant and in all places there was good provision for food and hygiene items. In discussions it became evident that most of the people arriving from Ukraine had family members to help out in Poland and for those who did not there was provision of shelter, however, not clear for how long.

A Drop in the Ocean has started helping with its volunteers the logistical work done in Kraków in warehouses and is exploring other ways to assist, including the creation of an info-point for Ukrainians having family members in Norway.

We will constantly reevaluate the needs on the ground and we will be ready to assist as we can.